WESTBOROUGH, MA — Patients battling addiction and the coronavirus can find support for both at Spectrum Health System's inpatient center in Westborough. The specialty unit opened last week. With support from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, the organization created an isolated unit that provides medically supervised detoxification and clinical stabilization services for clients who have tested positive for COVID-19, at its Westborough campus.
“Addiction doesn’t stop for a pandemic and our team knew that we needed to enact an emergency response plan to provide the essential services our clients need,” said Kristin Nolan, Senior VP of Behavioral Services at Spectrum Health Systems. “In a matter of days, our Westborough leadership team was able to create a space and comprehensive treatment model for individuals that have tested positive for the virus, but also need addiction treatment. It has been inspiring to witness the tenacity of our clients and a privilege to provide these life-changing and life-saving services at a time when they are so desperately needed.”
The goal of Spectrum’s COVID-19 unit is to provide detoxification services to people who have tested positive for COVID-19. People in the program receive all the benefits typically provided by Spectrum Health Systems such as individual and group therapy through the use of telemedicine and medication-assisted treatment.
“When COVID-19 first happened, every nurse I know wanted to be involved,” said AnnMarie Chimera, a nurse at Spectrum Health Systems. “When Spectrum announced that we were opening the specialized unit, all of us were excited to be a part of it and help people into recovery from both their substance use disorder and the virus. This time presents a unique opportunity for people to focus more on recovery from addiction, particularly those with a COVID-19 diagnosis that have been ordered to quarantine. I’m so happy that Spectrum is able to do this for our communities and help an often-forgotten population.”
Chimera started working on the COVID-19 unit when it first opened in March. She and her colleagues have helped 40 people start their treatment and continue their recovery journey through the continuum of care Spectrum is able to offer. People in the program typically remain in the COVID-19 unit for two to three weeks and following two negative tests, move on to continue their treatment in other areas of Spectrum’s continuum of care including both inpatient and outpatient treatment with medication-assisted treatment recovery classes, group and individual therapy, and more.
Admissions at Spectrum Health Systems are open and available daily, by appointment only. Referrals are processed from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M., Monday through Sunday. The eligibility requirements for the COVID-19 unit include:
- Must be 18 years or older. Minors can be admitted with written parental or custodial permission.
- Must be physically dependent on alcohol and/or drugs requiring inpatient medically monitored withdrawal treatment, based on the American Society for Addiction medicine (ASAM) 3.7 criteria.
- Must be in need of clinical stabilization services based on the ASAM 3.5 criteria.
- Must test positive for COVID-19 within the last 30 days and be considered unsafe for placement in a non-COVID facility.